Move-in day at SUNY Oneonta in August

This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, September 4th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

New York State conducted 93,395 COVID-19 tests, and 864 were positive, which means that the state has a 0.92% positivity rate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo heralded the statistic, saying in a statement, "Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers across the state, New York has now gone four straight weeks with an infection rate below one percent. Next week, malls in New York City and casinos across the state will be able to open, marking another milestone in our battle against COVID-19. But we cannot become complacent - we must continue to protect our progress. We must all continue to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and above all, stay New York tough."

There Are Now 507 COVID Cases At SUNY Oneonta

On Thursday night, SUNY Oneonta announced that 118 more coronavirus cases were reported, giving them a total of 507 cases for the school.

SUNY officials had decided to close campus earlier in the day, sending students back home for remote learning for the rest of the fall semester, as the 389 positive cases reflected an infection rate of 13%. By Thursday night, more cases were detected and the school issued an update: "Currently, 117 of the students who have tested positive remain in isolation on campus and 46 students are in quarantine on campus awaiting test results. Campus officials will continue to work closely with local and state health departments on retesting the remaining students on campus until they are COVID-free. Roughly 3,000 students and employees have been tested for COVID-19 since last Friday."

There are just over 6,000 students at the college, and almost 99% are from New York State. The school had announced a two-week move to remote learning on Sunday, when it first announced the initial outbreak, as per state guidelines. (Institutions of higher education must go to remote learning for two weeks if they have 100 cases or more.) But with a state health SWAT team there, more cases have been detected.

"After the college began testing students, faculty members and other employees en masse, some students who tested positive filmed themselves being woken up in the early hours of the morning and rushed into vans by men in white hazmat suits who took them to campus locations where they were to quarantine," the NY Times reports. "Haley Dimonda, a first-year student, said she had gotten a call shortly before 1 a.m. Monday informing her that she had tested positive for the virus and would have to pack her things to quarantine in a different dormitory. About five minutes later, Ms. Dimonda said, a resident assistant knocked on her door and told her that a man was waiting for her. [She] filmed herself, teary-eyed, following a man in a hazmat suit. She was still in her pajamas when she was escorted out of her dorm room carrying some of her belongings."

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has been trying to emphasize that they are following protocols to prevent further spread:

Dimonda told the Times that she was allowed to return home to Long Island, where she is "stuck in my room."

Malatras also said it was unclear if a single "super-spreader" event caused the outbreak; according to All Otsego, "That might be the case, he said, citing the New Rochelle situation, where one 'super spreader' at a big party is blamed for the Westchester County outbreak in March."

A few students had been suspended for holding parties that did not follow pandemic protocols. Now, all students, who live both on- and off-campus, are being encouraged to take tests.

Classes scheduled for Friday were cancelled, so students who are cleared to leave campus can move out and go home. SUNY Oneonta will offer refunds for housing and prorated refunds for dining fees.